Missouri Lakes

I backpacked into Missouri Lakes basin in the Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado.  I intended to complete the loop with Fancy Pass but too much snow at the top of the pass.  I got hailed on twice but it was worth the effort.  I saw an amazing sunset and the alpenglow on the mountains was stunning this morning.  The basin has three large lakes and a number of small tarns that make for great reflection photography.  I even caught a couple of brook trout out of the middle Missouri Lake.  En route to the lakes, a number of cascades and waterfalls make the hard hike an enjoyable one.  

Trail Description

The trail starts at the Missouri Lakes trailhead after an 11 mile drive on Forest Service roads.  It begins gently as the trail parallels the creek.  After a half a mile it begins to ascend more steeply.  At around one mile, you are treated to a beautiful double waterfall.  Unofruntately, there is no way to get close to the falls as the area is surrounded by dense undergrowth.  Just ahead, a little pond is a good place to stop and grab a snack.  From here, the trail begins ascending steeply and the trail becomes rocky.  Cascade after cascade can be seen along the creek.  At one point, the trail crosses the creek.  Here, a the creek cascades through a granite gorge. The trail levels out monetarily as it crosses a boggy meadow.  The trees start to thin as you approach Missouri Lakes basin.  The first lake soon comes into view around mile 3.  A number of small tarns can be found off trail just before the lake.  A number of good camping sites can be found in this area.  After passing the first lake, the trail makes a hard right turn up the hillside and the second lake can be found about 200 feet higher.  The trail passes the second lake and the third lake comes into view on the left.  For those wanting to take in the view, the trail climbs very steeply up to the pass.  Snow will remain here into August this year it looks like.  

  

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King Lake

The long hike to King Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is worth the effort.  Near the end, you are rewarded with great views, rushing water, and abundant wildflowers.  Getting there requires a 6.5 mile hike from the Hessie Trailhead near Nederland, CO.  The trail begins steeply as it climbs over a rocky slope before reaching a trail divide after 1.5 miles.  Veer left (the right branch goes toward Jasper Lake). The trail crosses the creek and climbs past a beautiful waterfall.  You reach a trail divide again at mile marker 2.5.  Keep straight.  Then the trail enters the forest and climbs only gradually for the next three miles.  Not many views are found during this portion of the hike. Finally, the trail joins up with the creek again at around mile 5.5.  The next mile is steep as it switch backs up to a meeting with the Betty and Bob Lakes trail.  Just past the junction you have to cross the creek to reach King Lake.  In high water, the creek can be crossed easier to the right and then skirting back to the trail through some large boulders.  Finally, after a long hike, you reach the pretty shores of King Lake.  

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Black Lake

Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is a long but rewarding hike in the Glacier Gorge area of the park.  The hike features a couple of beautiful lakes (including its namesake) and several waterfalls, including the elegant Ribbon Falls.  Ribbon Falls is a thin slip of a waterfall that descends a wide section of granite just below Black Lake.  Along the way, hikers are treated to several other cascades along Glacier Creek.  

Trail Description

The hike to Black Lake starts at the Glacier Gorge trailhead.  The trail climbs steadily to Alberta Falls, about a mile up the trail.  The falls thunders over the rocks.  Although it’s only a 25 foot drop, the falls is quite a sight.  This is the end of the road for many a hiker.  But the fun is just beginning.  Another small waterfall can be found just a few switchbacks up the trail.  The falls is tucked into a little hidden alcove.  Continuing up the trail, you reach a trail junction at mile 1.7 and bear right.  The left branch heads to the boulder field atop Long’s Peak.  Here, the trail cuts across a flat section of trail and approaches the canyon where lakes are located.  At mile 2.2, the trail divides again–the left branch heads toward Mills and Black Lakes, the right toward the Loch.  The trail climbs a series of steps and crosses the creek just before reaching Mills Lake.  Mills Lake is a calm respite and provides a good spot to grab a snack near the half-way point of the hike.  Try and spot a trout in its calm, shallow waters.

The trail then goes along the left side of the lake and parallels the creek for the next mile.  This section of trail ascends gradually and makes its way through an area of tree blowdown.   At mile 4, the trail begins to ascend more steeply.  The thunderous sound of Ribbon Falls greets you at mile 4.5.  This is a hard waterfall to photograph given its unique structure.  Going wide here will help.  You can walk off trail and reach the bottom of Ribbon Falls.  The next sight is the outlet of Black Lake.  The mountains in the background frame the falls beautifully.  Amending the steps above the outlet, you finally reach Black Lake.  

 

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Picket Wire Canyon

I have been meaning to hike Picket Wire Canyon near La Junta, CO for some time now, but I kept putting it off.  I finally went down there to do a hike to the dinosaur tracks.  The wait was worth it.  The hike is a long one but the canyon is very green compared to the surrounding landscape. The wildflowers were also blooming in abundance due to some recent spring rains.  

The Hike

The trail starts at the Withers trailhead about 45 minutes south of La Junta.  The trail quickly descends into the canyon from the parking lot and loses about 250 feet in elevation.  Once in the main canyon, wildflowers dot the landscape including prickly primrose, sunflowers, and cholla cactus.  An old ranch house is reached after a mile.  The next landmark is a cemetery located 3.7 miles from the trailhead.  In this stretch of trail, views open up of the canyon and the Purgatory River below.  The dinosaur tracks are found another 1.5 miles down the trail.  Several Brontosaurus tracks tracks can be seen here.  An even bigger collection can be found just across the river, but due to high water, I decided not to wade it.  The hike is 11.6 miles round trip.  There is very little shade so bring plenty of water.  

Directions

Picket Wire Canyon is located south of LaJunta.  Take highway 109 from La Junta and turn onto the signed dirt road top the right after 13 miles.  The road will turn at mile 8 toward the canyon.  Follow this road for 6 miles.  One final turn is required and this road goes 3 miles to the trailhead.  The way is well-signed.  

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Niwot Erie Girls Soccer

Niwot and Erie High Schools met in the First Round of the CHSAA 4A Girl’s Soccer playoffs yesterday.  Niwot capped a crazy comeback with a goal in the 2nd overtime to advance to the 2nd Round.  Erie led 3-2 with :25 left in regulation but failed to properly throw in the ball deep in Niwot’s end.  Niwot took advantage of the miscue going the length of the field to score the tying goal with 17 seconds left.  It was a fun game to photograph as the girls were playing hard as any number of players dove for balls or took hard hits.  A light rain also was falling throughout the game. Kudos to both teams for a hard fought, action-packed game.

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